This placed since the beginning of the last century,

This essay is a study of greek
organic agriculture from a Food Regime Theory (FRT) perspective. Using as a
reference Friedmann and McMichael’s Food Regime Theory, I tried to explain the
development of organic agriculture in Greece from 1860 till today. The
introduction refers briefly to organic agriculture in general. The introduction
followed by the development of agriculture in Greece during the periods of  2 Food Regimes. Then, the organic agriculture
in Greece is described and what was the reason which drove Greece in a new
social movement, as a consequence of the 2nd  Food Regime. The last part of this essay is
the description of the social movement which is the creation of eco-villages
and seeds exchange network.

Keywords: organic agriculture, Food Regime, eco-villages,
seed exchange network

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Introduction

“Organic agriculture
is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances
agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil
biological activity. It emphasizes the use of management practices in
preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regional
conditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using,
where possible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to
using synthetic materials, to fulfil any specific function within the
system.” (FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, 1999).

Organic agriculture is a result of the
problems and the differences in agricultural production methods that have been placed
since the beginning of the last century, mainly in northern Europe. Important
steps of development of organic agriculture started in 1924.

On the other hand, conventional
agriculture aims to produce agricultural products using pesticides and
fertilizers. The advantages and the goals are to increase production and
improve the quality of agricultural products. However, it also presents
significant disadvantages such as the water pollution of groundwater, soil, flora
and fauna contamination. It also has an impact on human either directly (expose
to pesticides) or indirectly (with the consumption of agricultural products
containing pesticide residues).

The widespread application of
chemical synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture has the to increase
the production and improve the agricultural products, especially in their
appearance.

Greece characterized as an
agricultural country. Greek farmers used to cultivate their lands from the
ancient times. They produced mostly wine and olive oil. Traditional farming
systems were used to cultivate the land.These systems could characterize as
organic as chemical and pesticides were not used. After WWII, in 1954 Greek
farmers started to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides in order to increase
their production.

Agricultural
development in Greece in the period of first food regime (1860-1914)

In this period of 1860-1914, the Greek
nation State developed in the agriculture and focused on exports especially the
period of 1860ies – 1870ies . In this period the commercial cultivated land is
expanded as the rapid greek population growth is observed. (Petmezas 2003,
131-133). Currants, wine, fresh fruits, lemons and silk were exported from
Ionian islands.

In 1870ies and 1880ies, the Great
Depression did not affect the Greek exports comparatively with the other
countries of the world because Greece exported a product in which the price was
not fell down. Greece exported currants to France for wine production. In 1874
the percententage of exported currants was 64% of the total amount of greek
exports but in 1892 the amount of exported currants were decreased because the French
government enforced a tariff. As a result, the price for all currants decreased
and in 1910 the greek agrarian sector lost the economic power. The control
passed to a financial group which aims to use a cheap raw material to the wine
indusrty (Petmezas 1999, 68-72).  

In the period of agricultural and
financial crisis (1892-1908), a large number of people migrate to USA
(1900-1924).

Agricultural
development in Greece in the period of second food regime (1945-1973)

After World War II, the consequences
in Greece were devastating. Firstly, the economy of Greece was destroyed and
secondly, Greece comes into a civil war because of the formation of resistance
camp. These two consequences drove Greece into involvement with the USA. In
1948, USA grants 649$ million to Greece through the Marshall Aid on purpose to
avoid Greece to join the communist block.

Greece became a member of GATT in
1950. Conformity to the rules of the trade and tariffs enhanced Greece to be a
member of the EEC. GATT later developed into WTO. The creation of this
organization accompanied by extending the negotiations to new fields such as
services, copyright, agricultural and textile products and by more a active
role in developing countries. Greece became a member of WTO in 1995. GATT and
consequently WTO was the clearest paradigm of neoliberalism.

After 1954 and mainly in 1960 a
significant development noticed. Through the massive usage of chemical
fertilizer, pesticides and the use of machinery, Greece followed the last two
of three agricultural revolutions (Bairoch 1989; Mazoyer & Roudart 1997). Land and labor productivity
increased impressively. Moreover, more agricultural investments took place and
agricultural buildings constructed (ATE 1985, 20-30). This development is
intertwined with land?s concentration. In this period a new powerful group of farmers were
dominant as they rent land and equipment to undercapitalized farmers.

 

Organic
Agriculture in Greece

Organic farming in Greece began in the early 1980s.
The first organic producers were mainly amateurs who wanted to test the various
organic farming methods. Organic has gotten a commercial character in 1982 when
a Dutch company showed interest in the production of organic raisins (soultana).
Cooperation with the Dutch certified organization Skal began the conversion to
organic farms in Aegio. Since 1986, a German company has supported the
production of organic table olives and olive oils for export. In the next
years, individual farmers who were supervised by foreign certification bodies
(Skal, Soil Association, Naturland), have turned their farms into organic. The
main products were olive oil, fresh citrus fruits, wine, cereals, kiwi and
cotton. Although, there are no official data on organic farming during the
period from 1982 to 1992. According to some estimates, there have been almost
150 producers of 2000 hectares in total. (Y.?.?.?.?.).

In 1993, with the implementation of Community
Regulation 2092/91, in Greece has given an important incentive to convert many
conventional crops into organic. Thus, organic farming in Greece made its
appearance officially in 1994, when 11,882 hectares of the cultivated organic
area was only 0.03% of the total cultivated area. Since then, a period of rapid
development begun. As a result, in 2003, the whole area with organic crops was
389,951 hectares which were corresponded to 1.15% of the total agricultural
area (Y.?.?.?.?.).

In particular, the development of organic agriculture
in the period of 1994-1998 is characterized by intense growth rates of organic cultivated
areas. Also, the number of organic farmers increased. During this period, the total organically cultivated area in the country
showed an annual growth rate of 100%. The rates of the new organic farmers
were similar. After 1998, this rate showed a significant decline but remained
positive. The total amount of organic area increased by 25% per year.

A significant evolution was in the period of 2004-2006
as the subsidies programs brought a significant number of producers into
organic farming. In 2009, Greece has the new European regulation on organic
aquaculture. In 2011, Greece has the regulation for organic wine, so a large
part of requirements are covered.

Today Greece has a very dynamic internal organic
market, despite the export orientation. Nowadays, in the Greek area, organic
products are available in more than 70 markets, super markets and stores which
specialized in sales in organic products.

However, since 2010 there was a marked decline in the
number of organic farmers such as and the number of organic arable land. That
happened because of completion of the 2005 and 2006 subsidy’s program for
organic farmers.

Good or bad, the existence or completion of a subsidy
program correspond perfectly to the statistical picture of organic farmers. So,
as long as we have subsidies we also have organic farming! This is true for the
big majority of the rural population, while there are of course some
exceptions. Organic farmers with vision and good relationship with the markets
and consumers and therefore they do not need any subsidy.

The latest statistics from the Ministry of Rural
Development and Food gives a good impression for the Greek organic farming. In
detail, the extent of organic farming in Greece in 2010 counted 3.7% of the
total crop, including pastures. The largest organic farms were pastures
(1,522,150,94 hectares), followed by arable land (848,005,10 hectares),
permanent crops such as fruit citrus, vine, olive (667.145,83 hectares) of
which the largest part was olive. Then follow the vegetables (28,981.31
hectares) including mushrooms, melon and vegetables, and finally legumes
8487.51 hectares (?.?.?.?.?).

Geographically, the distribution of organic farming is
unequal. It is limited to few relevant regions. Thus, Peloponnese collects
substantially more than half of the land and organic farmers. Then follow
Central Greece, Crete and Ionian Islands.

Regarding the domestic organic production, the variety
of products that are included are particularly small. The activity of the
majority of organic farmers selectively focuses on only some crops.

In particular, olive cultivation is the most important
crop of the country, accounting 44,4% of the area of organic farming and
followed by cereals by16,2%, viticulture by 8,1% and citrus fruit cultivation
by 5.3%. These four products account 74% of organic farming in Greece.

The above-mentioned restriction which concerns the
organic cultivated species in Greece is mainly related to the existing
institutional applicable framework in the country. But it is also related to
the existing constraints on the level of know-how, in terms of successful
implementation of organic cultural methods. Finally, it is also related with
the general attitude of the Greek peasants regarding their attitude to new
agricultural activities and to the almost instigated use of the EU CAP’s
financial support system; in which they are especially adherent (Pantzius and
Tzouvelekas, 2000).  

New social movements

The economic crisis has provoked and continues to
provoke significant socio-economic-spatial transformations in Greece since 2008
until today. This imprint of this deep recession is expressed through economic
changes, very high unemployment rates (31,3 %), through the deterioration in
the quality of life and the increase in the percentage of people living below
or below the poverty line (34.6%) (http://www.statistics.gr).
At the same time of social – economical – political collapse’s system, there
are two major socio – demographic trends. The first is the massive exit of
young people go abroad and the second one is the transition to rural areas and people
start to cultivate their land again. Many people took the decision to start
organic cultivation using the subsidies from the European Union for the new
producers.

On the other hand, in Greece, there is another group
of people who concerned about the quality of their life and they try to resist
to the massive production and consumerism which are consequences from the 2 Food
Regime. As a result, a new self – management community was born which focuses
more on a better quality of life in combination with protecting the environment
and enhancing biodiversity. These communities start to construct new ??green?? villages which are eco-friendly and sustainable. These villages
called eco-villages. For Greece, this is something new, but for the rest of the
world is well-known from the 1960s and 1970s (the period of 2 FR crisis). In
parallel, another initiative has started which is seed’s exchange.

 

Eco-villages

In 1991, Robert Gilman gave the definition of an eco-village.
Eco-village is:

“human-scale full-featured settlement in
which human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural world in a
way that is supportive of healthy human development, and can be successfully
continued into the indefinite future.”

Another definition is given by Kosha Joubert, the
executive director of the Global Ecovillage Network. Ecovillage defined as:

“intentional, traditional; a
rural or urban community that is consciously designed through locally owned,
participatory processes in all four dimensions of sustainability (social,
culture, ecology and economy) to regenerate their social and natural
environments.” 

Eco-villages is a social movement which started at the
1960s and 1970s and at the mid-1980s became more organized. Eco-villages
enhance the ecosystem biodiversity and promote organic farming and permaculture.

The movement to Eco-villages
in Greece

Based on this context, they have begun to form and do
the first steps the eco-villages in Greece. In 21/05/2006, a group set up with
the title “Initiative for development and
creation of ecological villages and ecosystems ” and started the Greek
e-group “eco-villages”. The trigger for
the creation of this group was the 4th European Social Forum which
took place on May 2006 in Athens. The framework of this Forum, the organization
of the workshop on “Eco – villages – another
world is feasible” was held after proposal and cooperation with three
sides: the Greek membership initiative to GEN and representatives of the Zegg
eco-community in Germany and Findhorn in Scotland.

The ” Movement for the Dissemination and
Generation of Eco-villages in Greece ” which followed, attracted people of
various social, economic and ideological classes with a common point at the creation
of sustainable residences on a human scale. What is done, is the collection of
information and especially experiences in the context of the creation of
Hellenic Network of Eco-village Communities. At the same time, it is very
important and necessary the communication between local population and
eco-village community.

In parallel, communication and exchange of experiences
with global Eco-villages Network, based on the emerging principles:

v  Permaculture

v  Respect for Nature – Respect to Human – Fair
Distribution

 

Greek eco-villages

The Greek Eco-village Network is an initiative for the
unity, collaboration, and promotion of eco-villages of Greece. It supports
brotherhood in material goods, equality of human relations and freedom of
spirits. All decisions are taken with the consensus of all members and the
assemblies are open for everyone who is interested. The working groups and
actions are autonomous and the process that is followed is circular. On the
website, an attempt is made to present these communities which are developed in
Greece in recent years. There are differences in each community. A common
vision inspires all eco-villages.

The network has prospects for further development. Even
though, there are already organized eco – villages and there are many others
that are in early stages of development and encounter problems such as: finding
a place for installation, fully conscious members, financial issues, etc. What
they are looking for is support and proper organization in order to withstand
in time and achieve the ecological goals. Sharing common goals and sharing
effort for their achievement is the key that will bring more members to these
communities and make them viable.

Examples of eco-villages in
Greece

In Greece, they are not flourishing such initiatives
and they are still in an early stage. Generally, these small communities are
throughout in Greece, mainly on the mainland but also in some islands. A
special case is an area of Pelion and more general the area of Magnesia, where
a large amount of thee communities are located there. The particular landscape
and the natural environment may be appealing for their creation n this area.
Several of these are included in the official Greek Network such as “Earthlings
Farm”, “SpithariWalkinglife Project”, “The Garden”, “The
Telaithrion Project”, “Ecotopia”, “Meltemi”,”
Enlarjia” and the education centre “Kalikalos”.

 

Seeds Exchange Network

More and more people are interested in gardening and
self-sufficiency. They began to think about ways to regain control in the food
supply in order to be more independent from the industrial food production. In
2002 BUKO campaign is activated by protesting against the companies that
produce GMO seeds and pharmaceutical companies. This campaign support local
initiatives and communities as well as those which originated from groups of
farmers and producers. After the European Seminar on Seeds in Europe which took
place in Halle in Germany in 2007, emphasizes in ‘liberation of seeds’. (www.biopiraterie.de)

Seeds Exchange Network in
Greece – Peliti

Before the financial crisis, people who were looking
for traditional varieties wanted them for a better quality of life. Today, the
search and cultivation of local varieties is a matter of survival.

These precious seeds can be purchased for free from
everyone. Every year Peliti has the ability to send seeds free of charge to
producers, from October till December. Another way is through celebrations
which are organized by the community Peliti. Peliti together with local teams
organizes more than 40 festivals every year in the country where seeds are distributed.
Seeds can also be obtained from the leaflet Peliti.

There are many professional farmers today who
cultivate varieties from Peliti and thousands of consumers who consume that
products. If there was not Peliti, many varieties would not exist. The most
significant example is the monococco wheat Kalpoutzas variety. Unfortunately,
many producers prefer to use industrial seeds because it is easier for them. However,
according to law, seeds in order to be marketed, they must record on the
national or European list. To be listed, they must have some characteristics
such as uniformity and stability. These characteristics do not have local
varieties. There is a number of restrictions under the current legislation.
There are also current legal prohibitions. Farmers who want the subsidy, they
have to declare that they have purchased registered seed, as all subsidy
programs are linked to the seeds of the list.

However, this situation has begun to change. People
were not interested in the issue of local varieties 25 years ago. Today, things
changed. Peliti has 20 local teams and there are 40 more other groups in
different regions in Greece. The farmers who choose these traditional varieties
from Peliti, they show their resistance to multinational firms.

Peliti has also many collaborations in Greece with
other teams, universities and research institutes and it has many
collaborations with foreign institutes, too. In Bulgaria, there is a local team
of Peliti and in the last 4 years, there is a festival for exchanging seeds
based on the principles of Peliti. In 2016 in Cyprus, it was organized the
first school garden with traditional varieties. This initiative inspired some
farmers in Turkey. Peliti, also supports a native Maya community in Guatemala. Nowadays,
Peliti is a member of the global seed freedom movement (seedfreedom.info) and
participates in a European platform on legislation. The festival which is
organized every year with ‘Exchange Traditional Varieties’ has a global impact
while it is organized a series of world actions such as International Seeds Day
in Greece in 2012, in 2013. In 2014, Peliti supported the International Seeds
Day in France, organized the first global meeting for common goods in 2015 and
finally in 2016 participated in the trial against Monsanto in Hague.

 Conclusion

In conclusion, I would like to fit Greek agriculture
into FRT. Greece was a nation -state which based on the agriculture and especially
to exports before the First Food Regime. Greece was an agriculture country and
the only source of money was the trade. After the period of WWII and in the
period of Second Food Regime, US hegemony help Greece providing 649$ million in
order to ‘help’ Greece. The main purpose of this plan was to avoid Greece from
communism. Then Greece starts to develop again in the period of crisis of the 2
Food Regime in the agricultural sector as chemical fertilizers and pesticides
are used to increase the production. Also, Greece becomes a member of a
neoliberalism organization (American and British initiative) in which issues
for international trade, commercial investments and tariffs are included. However,
people in the rural area avoid using chemical fertilizers and experience in
organic methods. In 1982 the organic agriculture is commercialized and a new
cooperation with foreign certified companies start. From this period and after,
growth and recession in organic production are noticed. Especially in the
period of 1994-1998 when the total organic cultivated area in the country
showed an annual growth rate of 100%. Subsidies from the European Union helped
to this development but when they stopped a decline has noticed. The most
significant decrease was in 2010 when Greece faced an economic crisis. From
this period many social, economical and political changes were noted. ?t the same time, in most Greek cities, efforts,
networks and initiatives are noticed. These initiatives are active in the urban
environment and concern solidarity and spare networks, direct food, exchange of
traditional seeds, eco-villages, etc (http//:enallaktikos.gr/anotherword, 2013)
and show their protest in an industrialized and massive production system. Such
initiatives are on a small scale in Greece because they have started recently but
it is very important how a Greek community started to think in a different way and
started to be more organized. It is very significant also that young people become
more critical and more active to related issues that include globalization, environmental
impacts, industrialization, massive production, global diet and how all these are
linked with the organic farming. and the direct relationship and not distant (characteristic
of the 2 Food Regime) with the products, foods and the farmers.